Mobilizing Resources for Marine Turtle Conservation in Asia: A Cross-Country Perspective
This study reports the results of a comparative study conducted in China, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam that assessed households’ willingness to pay for marine turtle conservation and the potential to mobilize funds. Results suggest that many people place a low priority on marine turtle conservation as compared to other public policy issues. When asked whether they would vote “for” or “against” a policy that would impose a monthly surcharge on residential electricity bill, majority of the respondents answered that they would only vote to support this policy if the surcharge is only USD 0.02 per month. If the poor were to be exempted, this modest surcharge would only generate a sum of USD 1.52 million per year (less than 8 % of the total global expense for marine turtle conservation). Nevertheless, there is some potential for voluntary contributions. Based on the percentages of respondents who would voluntarily pay USD 1 per month, the potential revenue could reach USD 50 million per year, but mobilizing these also presents problems. For example, the voluntary payment was explored by asking the respondents to check off the option to contribute to a marine turtle conservation program on their monthly electricity bills. While that might work once, it is unlikely that this can be repeated for other endangered species and environmental causes. The traditional prescription of raising awareness is unlikely to generate support, as urban Asians are already well informed about the existence and plight of marine turtles. Efforts to develop conservation-financing mechanisms should therefore be directed to a different, albeit more difficult, direction, that is, to improve people’s trust in the government tax collection and expenditure systems. Charities could explore the potential for voluntary contributions from the relatively small population segment willing to contribute voluntarily and develop cost-effective ways of collecting payments. Finally, until Asia develops higher per capita incomes and trustworthy payment vehicles, the international community will need to take on a significant role in financing conservation in the region.
KeywordsWillingness to pay Turtle conservation Contingent valuation method (CVM) Voluntary payment Southeast Asia
We would like to thank the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA) for providing the financial support to undertake this study. We thank Dr David Glover, Founding Director of EEPSEA, and Dr Herminia Francisco, present Director of EEPSEA since January 2007, for their technical support, comments, and opportunities for series of meetings which facilitated organization and coordination of cross-country efforts. We would also like to thank Dr Dale Whittington (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA) and Dr Wiktor (Vic) Adamowicz (University of Alberta, Canada) for their valuable suggestions and support which helped us carry through this study.
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